Tina Talks: Advice for Law Students

Photo courtesy of Fotopedia. Remember that kid in “Matilda” who ate too much cake? Yeah, you might want to stop before you get to that point.Dear Tina,

I ate too much pie over the weekend and now I feel kind of gross. What should I do?

Full of It (Pie)

Dear Full,
How much pie did you eat?  If it was a lot, I commend you on your pie eating efforts, but not on your whining. Was it worth it?  I bet it was.  Would you do it all over again?  I bet you would.
Drink some prune juice and let go of your regrets.  If you still have pie left, don’t let it go to waste.  Believe in yourself, and you can put it down.  Maybe sprinkle it with Metamucil to help it on its journey.
There’s really no such thing as eating too much pie.  Pie contains important food groups: the crust is a grain and a dairy (butter is often mistakenly categorized in the sweets/fats food group, when it really belongs with its dairy brethren), and the filling is a fruit, a nut, and/or custard, which is filled with protein-rich egg.  Chocolate contains antioxidant properties, and pumpkin’s full of vitamins and fiber.
Plus, we all need a little sugar to put pep in our step this time of year.  Think of all the pie inside you as brain fuel, rocketing you towards finals.  Don’t you feel like eating more pie now?
My grandfather used to tell me to run around the block to get Thanksgiving dinner settled and make room for pie.  Maybe you should have a post-pie run around the block to get the pie settled and make room for other foods, or if I have persuaded you, for your pre-finals all-pie diet.  A few jumping jacks also work to shake down the contents of one’s stomach.
If you choose (wisely!) to live the all-pie lifestyle, you probably will need to increase your exercise to account for pie’s nutrient laden, caloric density. Jog in place while you outline, or run through the stacks if you’re in the library, and then do some bicep curls with your heaviest textbook.  Work in some squats and sit-ups while you’re mentally organizing your responses to practice tests and, you’re all set. 
You are now a pie-fueled, lean, mean studying machine with the stamina to take on the toughest of exams. 
You’re welcome!
Chomp on!


Top 10 Things to Put on Your Winter Break Agenda (or Relax?)

Photo courtesy of anthonycamp’s photostream on Flickr.com. Check out the “Top Ten” this week for ideas for your New Year’s resolutions.We know that you’re too preoccupied to think about winter break, but the Law Weekly has you covered when you finally get there.

1. Ask Santa for loan forgiveness for Christmas.

2. And if you’re entering Big Law, be sure to make your New Year’s resolution count for several years.

3. J.D. Jokester’s resolution should be, “I will get a life”…outside of the Law Weekly.

4. For everyone else, your resolution should be: “I will read the “Top Ten” every week.

5. Take a nap in the hammock that we recommend you buy in “Disorientation.”

6. Try to mend relationships with all your non-law student friends.

7. Follow Tina’s all-pie diet.  Do you really think anyone is checking you out in law school anyway?

8. I know “relax” is a bad word in law school, but is it really that bad?

9. When is the last time you read a book since starting law school? What was that? Never? At least contemplate the idea of doing this.

10. Don’t get too carried away with that eggnog. We know finals were stressful.

by J.D. Jokester and Prudence Juris


Review: The best of whatever I’m listening to right now, 2011 edition

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Tiffany recommends checking out “Camp” by Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover. Law students can relate well to his nerdy pop culture references.This isn’t a “Best of 2011” list. This is just a “Best of Whatever I’m Listening to Right Now” list, and I am a fickle person with a short attention span. Everyone’s trying to upstage everyone else with new, undiscovered finds. I have no such delusions of  grandeur. There’s no valid reason you should adhere to my music recommendations, but here they are:

Justice – “Audio, Video, Disco” (2011) Somewhere between the cloying Europop Guetta invasion and the harsh industrial dubstep uprising, we find Justice, maturing to the edge of adult contemporary in their sophomore effort. Like pretty much the entire world, I loved “Cross.” “Audio, Video, Disco” is less dance-y, with none of the stadium hits of “Cross.” However, the sound is cleaner and clearer. “Audio, Video, Disco” is consistently pleasant, upbeat, soft electro with no surprises.  Best song: “Civilization.”

Childish Gambino – “Camp” (2011) Childish Gambino is fresh, clever, and self-aware. His beats are purposefully awkward, but his lyrics are intelligent and sharp. Donald Glover’s biting sense of humor pervades his music, and this album is full of enough nerdy pop culture references to allow even law students to relate. It’s like Eminem (especially on “LES”) and LMFAO had a baby, and that baby got a degree at NYU, put on hipster glasses, and decided to rap. Best song: “Bonfire.”

Little Boots – “Hands” (2009) English artist Little Boots (Victoria Christina Hesketh) is touring right now in support of an album due next year. It’s probably a good time for a refresher course on Little Boots, a mainstay of the electropop scene both here and across the pond. Fame aside, this album is just plain fun.There’s an edge in songs like “Meddle” that you might not expect from Hesketh’s lilting voice and peppy syncopation. Best song: “New in Town.”

Fitz and the Tantrums – “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” (2010) Fitz and the Tantrums take the 60’s Motown revival that’s been pervading the indie scene, and raise it to a whole other level. Did you like “Tighten Up,” but wish the rest of “Brothers” had that retro sound? You’ll like this album. No technical tricks or modern inventions, but in today’s rapidly changing society, sometimes what’s new is old, and what’s old is new again. Best song: “Don’t Gotta Work It Out.”

Skrillex – “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” (2010)/”More Monsters and Sprites” (2011) Do you want to hear something that will make you feel old? Listen to dubstep. We’re all in law school now, so there’s no point in trying to keep up with music trends. However, we don’t live under rocks (yet), so take a gander at what the young’uns think of as “music.” Skrillex is probably the most famous of the dubstep artists on the scene right now, and songs like “First of the Year (Equinox)” are fairly palatable even to the post-teen set. Best song: Remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema.” It’s not on either EP. Sorry.

Black Keys – “Brothers” (2010) I know, I know. The Black Keys were 2010’s Kings of Leon. But the thing is, the Black Keys are actually creative, and their songs don’t all sound like the same repetitive hackneyed whining centered on one chord progression. “Brothers” is more than just the hit single “Tighten Up.” The Black Keys show an admirable range, from the classic rock riffs in “She’s Long Gone” to the modern alt sound of “Everlasting Light.” Great range, great music. Best song: “Next Girl.”

Florence & The Machine – “Ceremonials” (2011) Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Florence by now? This album is a bona fide hit. Every song just works. Florence Welch and the various band members that make up The Machine have found a great blend of Florence’s gospel-inspired vocals and modern production techniques. “Cermonials” is a moving collection of evocative songs full of drive and inspiration. If I had to pick one album of the year, “Ceremonials” would be it. Best song: EVERY SONG.

Lana del Rey – “Video Games” (2011) Lana del Rey sounds like what you’d imagine that quiet girl in your office would sound like if she got drunk on whiskey and had an emotional moment with a microphone and an ex-boyfriend. Best song: “Blue Jeans.”

The Dead Weather – “Sea of Cowards” (2010) The Dead Weather’s 2010 album, “Sea of Cowards,” brings back that rough urgency present in the White Stripes’ best songs, but this time, with a female vocalist (Alison Mosshart of The Kills), a full band backup (Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age, Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs), and a sometimes gratuitous use of synth effects. Great background music for demolishing finals. Best song: “Die by the Drop.”

Britney Spears – “Femme Fatale” (2011) The days when Britney’s albums relied on her actual voice are long gone, but “Femme Fatale” provide some pleasant listening. Of course, the producers who worked on this album could make a recording of a dog barking and turn that into a chart-topper, but we’ll let that slide. “Femme Fatale” is another perfect pop album, accessible to everyone, incorporating some fresh, new trends in a non-threatening manner. Best song: “Till the World Ends.”

Carrie Underwood – “Play On” (2009) I have to admit I do have a Country playlist, and it consists almost entirely of Carrie Underwood. Underwood is the anti-Taylor Swift. This is music for grown-ups. Also, Underwood actually has a good singing voice. “Play On” takes less risks but is more cohesive than Underwood’s first album, “Carnival Ride” (2007). A few songs are overly formulaic, but Underwood brings a strong energy to even the twangiest country stereotypes. Best song: “Cowboy Cassanova.”

Supplementary Reading
Mumford & Sons – “Sigh No More” (2009) You know who’s really the new Kings of Leon? Mumford & Sons. All of their songs are the same song, but boy they’re catchy. They’re basically Gogol Bordello for normal people.

Foster the People – “Torches” (2011) I wanted to include Foster the People, I really did, but I can no longer stand to hear any iteration of “Pumped Up Kicks.” I think there should be a statute of limitations for how long a song remains popular.

David Guetta – “Nothing But the Beat” (2011) I really don’t want to hear any more Guetta. Unless I’m in Vegas. Alas, I am in the library, which is basically the opposite of Vegas. Thanks for reminding me of all the fun I’m not having, Mr. Guetta.

Maroon 5 – “Hands All Over” (2011) It was a great year for Maroon 5. Lead singer Adam Levine is now a judge on a popular reality program. He guest vocaled on a hit track with Gym Class Heroes, and is currently starring in an ADHD PSA. The band took a Christina Aguilera-featuring song and turned that into an international sensation. “Hands All Over” is an effective comeback album, the band’s best since 2002’s “Songs About Jane.”

Online Playlist

If you want to know exactly what I’m listening to right at this moment, you should probably ask my roommate Sofie. I sing along to songs (a) loudly and (b) constantly. Since I’m sure you guys are now all really disappointed you’re not Sofie, I made you a Spotify playlist. The list includes some of my favorite songs from each album in this list, and the ones mentioned in the supplementary reading. Because you do the supplementary reading in your casebooks, right? Right. 


Need a study break? Get sweet and saucy with “District of Pi” pizza

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC’s photostream on Flickr.com. Adam recommends that you give “District of Pi,” a try, although its pizza crust may not be for you if you’re not a fan of cornmeal. And what is that ingedient that makes the sauce so sweet?When one thinks of pizza cities, St. Louis is probably not a place that immediately comes to mind. After eating at the St. Louis-based chain “District of Pi,” I don’t think that your opinion will change.

However, the restaurant offers a great beer selection and the only halfway decent deep-dish in D.C., making it worth a visit, although you should not go expecting top-notch service.

“Pi” opened its brick-and-mortar restaurant at the end of the summer after introducing a food truck to the city earlier in the year. As its name suggests, the restaurant specializes in a variety of pizzas, both thin-crust and deep-dish.

Types include the traditional “South Side Classico,” with mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and onions, as well as veggie varieties like the “Berkeley,” with portobella mushrooms, kalamata olives, red bell peppers, garlic, and zucchini. Diners can also select their own toppings to make a pizza of their choice. 

The restaurant adds cornmeal to their dough, giving the crust a bit of a grainier texture than New York or Chicago-style crusts; I liked this but can see how it could be an acquired taste.

In general, I think that the pizzas are fairly well-executed.  The deep-dish pizzas are topped with a slightly too-sweet-yet-delicious chunky tomato sauce, and the toppings are all high quality. The deep-dish at “Pi” won’t beat any of the deep-dish pizza restaurants in Chicago, but it’s pretty much the only game in town for homesick Second City natives outside of the inedible Uno’s and Armand’s. 

The thin crust pizzas are also good.  Because the restaurant is busy and it can take a while for the kitchen to make your pizza, try the excellent “blazed wings,” a full pound of baked meaty chicken wings with a spicy glaze.

The one area where “Pi” really shines is in its beer selection. The bar has a rotating list of over twenty microbrews, including the Schlafly brewery from St. Louis (hard to find in D.C.), and a list of cans and bottles.  You’ll have to wait until next year to try the nearly perfect Schlafly seasonal pumpkin beer, but mark your calendars.

Unfortunately, as a new restaurant, “Pi” is still getting its sea legs.  On every visit to the restaurant I’ve made in the last several weeks, there have been service issues: a server blatantly lying about the pizza that we ordered to cover up a kitchen error (the pizza was still delicious); a bartender forgetting to input a pizza order, resulting in an hour wait (and fortunately, a comped pizza); and a server rushing me and my incredulous dining companion by dropping off a check before our meal was finished.

Given the poor serivce and that the restaurant is crowded when you probably want to go grab a slice, consider having a beer at the bar and ordering take out.

“District Pi” gets two gavels for good food and average service and is located at 910 F Street, NW.

 by Adam Wesolowski , 2L


Photo courtesy of 5lab’s photostream on Flickr.com. At the end of finals, treat yourself and go buy a hammock. Start saving up nowSagittarius - Standards of review are flexible, and so is the curve. No worries, everyone else is just as lost as you are.

Capricorn - Is that class that you’re really worried about a seminar or writing course? If so, then don’t. Seminars are generously curved. Also, adjuncts give better grades than full-timers.

Aquarius - Say it with me. “Next semester, I will schedule mostly seminars and experiential learning classes and only use pass/fail credits for large 4-credit courses.”

Pisces - Back up your notes. I’ll wait; do it now. Done? Good. Every semester, at least one student loses everything. Don’t be that student.

Aries - Proper nutrition is hard to come by this time of year. Stay away from the vending machines! Try cracking an egg into your ramen while it’s boiling to add some protein to your sodium.

Taurus - Morning before a final food do’s and don’ts. DO eat grains or breads and have coffee. DON’T eat bananas or apples or other fruits. Your body is not accustomed to them, and bad things will happen.

Gemini - “Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried, or childless men.” – Francis Bacon  Don’t worry, law school has placed you on the right track.

Cancer - It doesn’t look like you’ll ever understand copyright law. Sorry. “Only one thing is impossible … To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.” – Mark Twain

Leo - Get ready for the greatest video of all time: the “How to Take an Exam” video, in vintage VHS.

Virgo - As you prepare for exams, think about why you went to law school. If you don’t remember, you can always dig up your application essays. They’re at least good for a laugh.

Libra - You’re having trouble with your Christmas list. Whatever you do, resist the urge to write “For the pain to stop.” It will scare the crap out of your mother.

Scorpio - You are nervous. Don’t be. You’ll do better at what you thought yourself bad at and worse in the rest.

International criminal prosecutions, human rights, and the law

Seth Engel, 3L, can be reached at see7@law.georgetown.edu.

On Wednesday, November 30th at 5:30pm, Georgetown Law will be hosting a panel exploring contemporary issues of international criminal prosecutions. Along with several other students, I have organized this panel in hopes of exploring some of the most pressing issues facing international justice today: the complementarity principle, wherein the International Criminal Court (ICC) is meant to be a court of last resort, the rights of the accused in a fair trial, and the role of military necessity in international crime. For me, though, this panel is more than just another event discussing important contemporary issues; this panel is designed to explore a tension in human rights law that has come to embody my law school experience.

I once read in a law school evaluation book that “Georgetown is a lion among law schools.” Yet, to me, it is the Georgetown students who are the real assets, merely formed and shaped by the school. Like the month of March in reverse, they come in like a lamb and go out like a lion. With such a heavy emphasis on international law, it is no surprise that such a large percentage of students enter Georgetown somewhat-idealistically hoping to be a “human rights lawyer.”  After law school’s grinding evolution of the brain, though, many if not most change their mind and move on to something else. But the human rights gestalt is nonetheless a driving force in my generation of law students.

On the one hand, we are mobilized by international groups, such as STAND Darfur and Amnesty International, while, on the other, we sympathize with American causes espoused by the ACLU and the Innocence Project. From what I have observed, this has caused two powerful currents of liberal lawyers as they graduate into the work force stream – the public defender and the international human rights lawyer. Under further analysis, however, I suggest that these two professions are in direct tension.

I have worked with a small NGO in West Africa, interned with the Federation International de Droit de l’Homme (FIDH) in Paris, and clerked at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands. I’ve seen my fair share of human rights lawyers. A common thread among them, which I find most disturbing, is the thirst and lust for prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of human rights violations. It is true, groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and FIDH have extremely legitimate aims in attempting to shine a light upon the violations, massacres, tortures, rapes, deportations, and pillages committed around the world. That being said, the focus of this new wave of human rights lawyers is almost entirely on prosecuting, to the detriment of the actual criminal justice processes themselves. The evidence of this tension, between the emphasis on prosecuting and the desire for a legitimate trial, is everywhere. The “peace versus justice” debate, which has taken place recently in The Economist and the ICC Internship/Visiting Professional Debate Programme, exemplifies the tension. Did the ICC’s al-Bashir arrest warrant come at the expense of a valuable NGO presence in Darfur, who some argue were expelled in part due to the arrest warrant’s issuance? Did the ICC arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and his LRA underlings stall the peace process in northern Uganda? Did the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) stir up more conflict and political turmoil than it actually resolved?

These important questions are too often ignored. When I interned at the ICC, I worked in the Office of Public Counsel for Defense (OPCD), which is the rough equivalent of the Legal Aid Society and serves as a sort of collective memory and strategic database for ICC defense teams. Instead of dealing with poor clients, however, the OPCD handles clients who are dealt the worst possible deal in a criminal case; literally, the entire world is against them. If you asked someone what she thought of when she heard the name Moammar, the word “monster” would nearly inevitably arrive at some point in the conversation. You ask someone about al-Bashir’s presidency in Sudan and the same thing will occur for the word “genocide.” Is there any doubt as to why people question the legitimacy of ICC trials? Especially when the Prosecutor himself engages in this kind of rhetoric. Instead of remaining “impartial” (as required by the ICC’s Rome Statute) and instead of saying the accused were allegedly guilty or that the evidence suggests a certain conclusion (as required by several Pre-Trial Chamber rulings), Luis Moreno-Ocampo repeatedly called Gaddafi a murderer, torturer, and responsible for mass rape. Since Gaddafi was not in ICC custody, he did not even have a lawyer at this time. The OPCD filed a motion on his behalf arguing that his press conferences on Libya were violating the presumption of innocence.

I realize that the above paragraph sounds alarmingly like the rants of a public defender. Well, this is exactly the type of tension I am describing. I’d estimate that three-quarters of my public-interest friends who graduated from Georgetown Law this past year have seriously considered working as a public defender. At the same time, nearly all of us, myself included, arrived at law school considering becoming a “human rights lawyer.” While I agree that a public defender is indeed the most ardent bulwark for the human rights of the poor and downtrodden, many would not say the same thing for the valiant lawyers at the OPCD of the ICC. The question most posed to a public defender is the following: “how could you defend someone who you know is guilty?” It is this prejudice that public defenders face on a daily basis, in which the accused is so publicly reviled that he is already assumed to be guilty – and the job of a public defender is to incessantly and courageously battle against it.

This is the uphill fight faced by the OPCD of the ICC and the defense lawyers of the Gaddaffis and al-Bashirs of the world. And this battle is not made any easier with the flood of amici briefs, condemning reports, and expert testimony of human rights lawyers that are admissible evidence at the ICC and handily utilized by the Office of the Prosecutor. On the architrave of the New York City Supreme Court Building, it is written: “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” Without true administration, which undoubtedly includes the presumption of innocence, the right to an unbiased trial, and the right to a zealous defense, there can be no good government and no fair trial. This is a premise worth noting for future and current human rights lawyers, something that has been a staple of public defender philosophy for decades; even allegedly moral monsters deserve a fair trial, no matter what they are accused to have done.

The door is opening a crack and the internal tensions within human rights law, particularly in the field of international criminal justice, are beginning to shine through. It is this evolution that turn 1Ls into able law graduates, a process that Georgetown Law has mastered in many ways, and a process that turns us into the confident, ambitious alumni scattered throughout the world. I hope that the panel “Contemporary Issues in International Criminal Prosecutions” will further this cause and I hope to see you there.

‘Contemporary Issues in International Criminal Prosecutions’ will take place on Wednesday, November 30th at 5:30pm in Hart Auditorium. Reception to follow.

Law Weekly now accepting applications to join the 2012 staff! All positions up for grabs.

Join the staff! Applications due Nov. 29.The Law Weekly is now accepting applications to join the staff for the 2012 calendar year! Unlike some journals and newspapers, the Law Weekly staff turns over every at the end of every calendar year, as opposed to the end of every school year. In other words, our editors serve in their positions from January to December, at which point the staff gets a new Editor-in-Chief and all other positions are up for grabs. If you’re interested in joining the Law Weekly staff, please send an application to laweekly@law.georgetown.edu, preferably by Dec. 2nd. Find more information after the jump!

Your application should include 1) a list of the positions you seek, in order of preference, 2) your resume and 3) an action plan describing what you hope to accomplish in your desired position(s). The action plan does not need to be long or short; just make it long enough to say whatever you need to say.

Email your application, or questions about the process, to laweekly@law.georgetown.edu. See a full list of available staff positions below.

Available Staff Positions Jan-Dec 2012
-Editor-in-Chief (oversees the weekly editing and publishing of the newspaper, as well as GuLawWeekly.org)
-Managing Editor (2 slots) (assists the EIC in overseeing production of the newspaper and the website; one Managing Editor usually focuses on business aspects of the paper such as advertising, recruitment and scheduling meetings while another editor focuses on editorial content)
-Chief Copy Editor (responsible for ensuring that each newspaper is free of spelling/grammatical error, as well as content problems)
-News Editor (2 slots)
-Court Reports Editor
-Features Editor
    -Associate Features Editor
-Opinions Editor
-Staff Photographer


Edward Mitchell

Law Weekly


Occupy Wall Street and the Proper Role of the Student Bar Association

Edward Williams, 1L, can be reached at ehw24@law.georgetown.edu.

Two weeks ago, the Georgetown Law Student Bar Association took up a resolution that has spurred intense discussion and debate amongst the law center community. Resolution 2011-12-18 in Support of the Nationwide Occupy Wall Street Movement raised an institutional competence discussion around the role of the Student Bar Association. Unfortunately, what should have been a substantive dialogue about the role that students want the SBA to play, some persons opposed to the resolution have used it as a political hot potato to rally the emotions of members of the law center community. As a delegate that voted for the resolution, it is important to appropriately frame this conversation without the political ire that has come to consume it.

First, as a 1L representative for Section 3, my co-delegate and I took a poll of our entire section who overwhelmingly voted to support the resolution. As representatives we carried out the wishes of our section with the diligence that we were elected to demonstrate. Second, it appears that much of the debate about the resolution is being had without anyone having actually read the resolution. The resolution did not endorse all of the actions of the OWS Movement, nor invite the OWS movement to camp out on the Georgetown Law Green. It was an extremely narrowly tailored resolution that sought to speak out against two difficult realities:

1) Wealth distribution in our country is inequitable; inequitable wealth distribution slows the economy; and a crippled economy has a negative impact on the ability of graduating law students to find employment; 2) We are opposed to the police brutality that has been demonstrated toward the protestors, many of whom are students. I can agree in part that this may have not been the best resolution to speak out against these social ills, but we should all recognize the limited scope of the resolution. The perceived attempt to radicalize the delegates who brought and/or supported the resolution is a falsity. Indeed, these delegates, including myself, voted for the resolution because we believe in a representative government and carried out the wishes of our constituency, and/or we believe that the social ills, which were actually the content of the resolution, are important injustices for the law school community to address. Even more, when several delegates proposed that due to the controversial nature of the resolution it should be brought to the entire student body for a referendum vote, there was strong opposition to giving the entire student body a say.

This brings me to the dialogue that the student body should be having about the role of the SBA. Instead of attempting to cast particular members in a disparaging light, we should be discussing rather or not the SBA should use its voice to speak out against injustice. The law school is the center of the legal community, not only is the future of the legal community trained here, but law schools represent the direction of legal thought through law journals, professor publications, various institutes, and clinics. With this in mind, when the students of a prestigious law school, like Georgetown Law, speak, the legal community, our country, and the world all listen. Assuming this is true, sitting on the sidelines and watching the law be used systematically, i.e. unequal wealth distribution, or in practice to hurt people, i.e. police brutality, should prick our collective social conscience in such a way that we raise our voice to say, “this is wrong.”

Few of us would question whether the SBA had overstepped its institutional boundaries if it had spoken against the violent attacks on civil rights protesters in the 1960s or had stated its support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board in the 1950s. However, history does not allow us to sit back, judge, and then insert the right decision with the appropriate time marker. We are forced to do our best to make the decisions in the present that will eventually become history.  Additionally, the SBA in its current form has been reluctant to speak out against issues even more closely related to the law center community.

My co-delegate and I brought a resolution to support the student petitions to bring back the human rights fellowships that were cut this year. A similar institutional competence debate once again engulfed the SBA, as several delegates spoke out in concern that the SBA might be perceived as hostile toward the administration by supporting the student petitions, and if so, is that our role? Personally, I believe that it is the role of the student government to advocate the concerns of the student body even when those concerns are in opposition to the actions of the administration. We were able to get the resolution passed by a narrow margin over several no votes, and many abstentions.

In conclusion, I hope that this article has more accurately framed the discussion around the role of SBA, has removed the unnecessary political rhetoric, and has opened the floor for real dialogue on what the student body wants. While I believe that it is the primary duty of the SBA to address issues within the law center community, and that duty should consume most of the time, energy, and discussion within the SBA; I do not believe that duty should limit our ability to disagree with the administration when students have demonstrated disagreement or limit our ability to speak when we see the law being used to commit injustices against our own citizens.

Why defend guilty people?

Joshua Lake, 2L, can be reached at jbl38@law.georgetown.edu

“How can you defend guilty people?”

I am still in law school, but because I’m applying to work as a public defender I already have to answer that cocktail party question.

And it’s a fair question. We watch Law & Order not to sympathize with the criminals, but to enjoy catharsis when they’re caught. So why would anyone rush to defend guilty people? I can’t give an answer for everyone. There are a host of reasons defense attorneys feel called to the work. But here’s my own story.

Before I attended my first law school class, Georgetown’s financial aid application required me to articulate my post-graduation goals. I was significantly puzzled by the question, and it took me several days to prepare a response. You see, I am the first lawyer on either side of my family; I knew that my liberal arts degree and my love for reading were good preparation for law school, but surely I had more meaningful reasons for enrolling.

I spent several days thinking about the question, trying to give shape to my inchoate motivations for pursuing a career in law. During that process of forging a plan for my life as a lawyer, I first articulated a desire to defend the rights of the accused.

In that essay, I didn’t use the words “public defender,” and I didn’t even articulate a clear desire to work with the criminal law. What I said was that I hoped to find a career where I could defend the constitutional rights of persons who might, apart from my advocacy, be denied them. I understood that without a lawyer at their side, some citizens would stand helpless as their “inalienable” rights were simply ignored.

Comparing that essay to my experience in criminal defense, I realize that the two are not far apart. This summer at the Nashville Public Defender, I spent every morning in the courtroom and every afternoon in the office. Before lunch, I spoke with clients in lockup, listened to their story, heard their goals, and sought to effectuate them – whether in plea negotiations or in full-blown trial. After a quick break for lunch, I went back to the office to research case law, draft motions to be filed in court, and interview clients out on bail.

Every minute of my day was spent defending the constitutional rights of men and women accused of various crimes. Sometimes it was their First Amendment right to free speech, others it was their Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unlawful searches, and always it was their Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

That internship confirmed my desire to find a public defender job after graduation, but it also opened my eyes to how people view criminal defense attorneys.

Nearly everyone who hears that I want to work in criminal defense will have one of three responses: Some will try to sell me on the benefits of some more respectable and lucrative career choice. Many will look incredulous and try to change the topic. And nearly everyone will ask a variety of the famous question, “You really want to defend murderers and rapists?”

My response to that last question – an answer I can now give almost without thinking, because I’ve repeated it so often – is also three-fold: First, not everyone accused of a crime is guilty. We have all heard stories about DNA exonerations and prisoners walking free after decades in jail following a wrongful conviction. For that reason, I want to make the government jump through every hoop possible and prove each defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before the state incarcerates even one of them.

One defense attorney has written that defending the guilty is easy, but God help you when you have an innocent client. Those are the clients that keep you up at night, fighting with every ounce of your strength, knowing that if you win there’s no joy, just the relief at having prevented a horrific injustice. The defense attorney stands in the breach, fighting to keep those innocent men and women out of prison.

Second, even the defendants who are guilty deserve a zealous and qualified lawyer to advocate on their behalf; that is how our American adversarial system is designed. A good prosecutor puts on his best case and an earnest defense attorney does her best to show reasonable doubt, and we leave it to the judge to split the baby. If qualified attorneys ever decided to stop representing guilty clients, the system would stop working.

Defense attorneys have the privilege of getting to know all of the men and women accused of crimes, whether they be guilty or innocent. And what you find is that each one has a story. As you get to know each client and as you get to know their story, you begin to see their humanity, something that is often lost in the criminal justice system. To the prosecutor – and often to the judge – the defendant is nothing more than a case number and a list of criminal charges, but to the defense attorney, they are a human being and a product of their circumstances. They deserve an advocate.

Finally, but for the grace of God any one of us could be on the other side of the table, accused of a crime, unable to afford a private attorney, and desperately hoping that our public defender isn’t just the dregs of his law school class, the guy who couldn’t get any other job.

That is why I want to defend guilty people.

Cooperatives in lesser developed countries

Two recurring elements of development in less developed countries (LDCs) have been volatility and increasing income inequality. Many businesses in LDCs tend to be involved in corrupt activities, whether because property laws are not sufficient or simply because the benefits outweigh the costs.  While advanced industrial economies such as the United States did indeed have these features during their early periods of development (and still do, to a large extent), they are by no means necessary features of developing economies. Different historical circumstances should yield different results, and yet the attitude is all too common that these negative features of development are inevitable and must be shouldered if the benefits of development are to be enjoyed.

            The cooperative mode of work organization has a long history. There were thousands of cooperatives (worker, producer, and consumer) across the United States in the years following the Civil War. These cooperatives, and others like them in different times and places, were organized in response to the perceived injustices and failures of the traditional capitalist organization of firms. Worker cooperatives are one of the most radical departures from this traditional organization. In contrast to capitalist firms, worker cooperatives are democratic, egalitarian, and characterized by minimal division of labor. They have also never been nearly as widespread as capitalist firms, and so they are still, for this reason primarily, considered an “alternative” form of work organization.

            In all types of cooperatives (but especially producer and worker cooperatives), conditions for members of the cooperative are usually better than they are in traditional capitalist work organization. Cooperatives are remarkably stable in poor economic conditions, especially in terms of employment—while traditional capitalist firms respond to poor conditions by firing employees, cooperatives simply reduce output. Whereas traditional firms often deal with hard times by firing workers and scaling back production, worker cooperatives scale back production without firing workers to achieve the same result.

            In modern LDCs, cooperatives have played a major role in ameliorating economic crises. In Venezuela’s struggling economy, when all other forms of business had retreated, cooperatives thrived and helped the economy get back on its feet. Cooperatives have been shown to decrease volatility in unemployment, as well as thriving in both good and bad economic conditions. In Spain, the Basque Mondragón complex of worker cooperatives comprises a major part of the Spanish economy, and has seen growth year after year since its founding.

            Cooperatives also decrease income inequality. Rather than having a single owner, or a group of owners who simply skim off the return to their investment without being engaged in the activity, cooperatives are owned collectively by those who are engaged in the activity. In the case of producer cooperatives, this means that they are owned collectively by the people who own the individual plants; in the case of worker cooperatives, this means that they are owned by those who work in the plants. Returns go not by vast majority to a single stakeholder, but rather are spread relatively equally among those engaged in the activity. Whereas the profits of traditional firms go to direct investors of capital and a set wage is paid to workers, the profits of worker cooperatives go to the workers themselves, who are both the only direct investors of capital and the laborers, above and in addition to wages.

            Cooperatives decrease corruption because it is more difficult for a democratically controlled enterprise to have illicit returns flow to a single member. While cooperatives have the same perverse incentives for corrupt dealings with government officials that traditional capitalist firms do, it is much more difficult for a cooperative to cut a deal quietly than for an individual to do so, simply because the cooperative has so many more people involved. Whereas traditional firms are run by a small elite cadre of investors with an unequal power relationship over their employees, worker cooperatives are run by their workers, either directly or through elected management, and no employee has any more say than another employee over company policy except as subject to the will of the majority. Additionally, workers in worker cooperatives have a direct financial incentive to work hard, as returns from working harder go directly to the worker from increased revenue.

            Cooperatives, at least in developed economies, are usually composed of young, highly educated, idealistic individuals who seek to escape the predominant model of the firm. As the reaction against Western-style capitalism increases in strength in some LDCs (especially in Latin America), cooperatives provide a more just, less corrupt, and less authoritarian outlet while also providing for a free-market system and competition. In short, they provide an alternative to state socialism. There is no reason to believe that young people in developing countries, who have in the past been so active in movements of social justice, would be any less inclined toward the worker cooperative than in developed countries.